When my friend Emily sent a text that read, “Did you know April is National Stress Awareness month?” my quick – albeit clever – response was, “Really? I wasn’t aware.”  Then I started to think about my son Jimi and his fiancé, Tricia.  Within the next few months, they plan to pack all their belongings, grab their dog, and relocate from the West Coast to the East Coast.  Additionally, they are both beginning new jobs and looking for a place to live…all the while planning for a wedding.  Any one of those things – a big move, a new job, a new house, planning a wedding – can be very stressful on its own; but all of those things occurring simultaneously?  Well, that will be…quite the test in stress-management!  So, I decided to look into some tangible and useful information to help reduce the stress they will be under during the next year.

Biological stress!  Causes of stress!  Signs of stress!  Measuring stress!  Managing stress!  Effects of too much stress!  The need for good stress!  Wow!  Disseminating all the information out there about stress into something practical and useful proved to be – well, in a word – stressful!  As I learned from my online research, “stress” appears to be one of those words that are really difficult to define because it is so subjective.   The most practical definition would seem to be that offered by Mort (Doc) Orman, M.D. – graduate of Duke University (B.A. 1969) and the University of Maryland Medical School (1973).  According to Doc Orman, the mind-body phenomenon we call “stress” can best be understood as a word used to encompass hundreds of problems in our lives.  He offers a more detailed explanation of stress and how to deal with it in the free online e-book entitled, The Ultimate Method for Dealing with Stress.

Doc Orman is also the founder and director of the nonprofit health education organization, Health Resource Network, Inc. (HRN).  HRN has sponsored National Stress Awareness Month in April for the past 30 years, aiming to increase public awareness about our modern stress epidemic by encouraging health professionals to partake in a cooperative national effort to educate people about the causes and cures for stress – including its inherent dangers, harmful misconceptions, and successful coping strategies.

Doc Orman asserts the very best way to cope with stress is to address your problems by:

  1. Identifying each problem specifically.
  2. Identifying the main causes of each problem.
  3. Dealing with the causes effectively.

Let’s take financial stress as an example.  If we follow Doc Orman’s strategy, we first need to be more specific about the problem…

  1. The problem:  There is not enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month.
  2. The main cause of the problem:  The credit card is being used to make purchases that can’t be covered at the end of the month.
  3. An effective solution to the problem:  Create a budget that will allow you to stay within your means.

Sounds simple enough, but identifying those problems that need addressing may be tough.  National Stress Awareness Month seems like a good time to take a closer look at our problems so we can deal with each one effectively and reduce the stress in our lives.  As Jimi and Tricia begin to take on the challenges the next year will bring, hopefully heeding the advice of Doc Ormon(and Mom!) will help them eliminate some stress along the way!